FIRING SQUAD CARRIES OUT EXECUTION

Published: Friday, Jan. 26 1996 12:00 a.m. MST

After signing his last will and testament, eating pizza with his uncle and listening to a hymn sung by an attorney and a Catholic priest, John Albert Taylor met death.

Four .30-caliber bullets took the life of the convicted child-killer shortly after midnight Friday. It was the first execution of its kind in 19 years.Taylor was already strapped into a specially made black, metal chair when witnesses from his family, the government and local news media arrived at midnight.

His eyes darted back and forth nervously until Warden Hank Galetka and Deputy Director of Institutions Jim Gillespie approached him to ask if he had any last words.

"Yes, I do," he said, looking straight ahead into floodlights that blinded him to the sight of the executioners.

"I would just like to say for my family, my friends; as the poem was written, `Remember me, but let me go.' "

He nodded, and Gillespie left the room. Galetka looked up as he placed a black hood over Taylor's head. The warden left the room and seconds later, at 12:03 a.m., five rifles fired in unison.

The white, cloth target that had been velcroed to his blue jumpsuit disappeared. His chest heaved upward, his left hand tightened into a fist, released slightly, tightened again and then gradually loosened as his body succumbed to death. His head fell back.

Galetka re-entered the room after the shots were fired. He stood with his hands clasped behind his back and looked around the temporary room with plywood walls. He took deep breaths as he waited for Taylor to die. After about a minute, he escorted a doctor into the room.

With latex-gloved hands, the doctor climbed onto the podium where the chair was mounted and lifted the black hood. He felt Taylor's neck for a pulse. He then took a pair of scissors out of his front pocket and cut two holes in the hood. He used a pen light to look into Taylor's eyes.

Taylor, 36, was pronounced dead at 12:07 a.m.

Sherron King, the victim's mother, said she didn't have to be told when Taylor died.

"It was like something came over my heart," she said. "I don't know if I imagined it or not. I knew he was dead."

Weeping, King added, "It broke my heart to know that another human being had to die . . . I know what his mom's going through . . . So many people had to die in this. But I know we can't allow him to

live; it just hurts so much."

Taylor's former attorney Ed Brass, who met with Taylor during his last hours, said he believes Taylor was afraid but determined to die.

Corrections officers said Taylor slept on the prison cot Wednesday night with two sheets, two blankets and three pillows. He was restless and fell asleep somewhere between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.

Before being moved to the solitary cell about 9 p.m. Wednesday, Taylor was allowed to smoke a cigarette on a chair outside the building.

"He was asked if he wanted another one and he said, `No, that's fine,' " Galetka said.

Officers detailed nearly every moment of his final hours.

The last day of his life Taylor visited with his family, his attorneys and his priest through a small window in the room's metal door, officially called the cuff port.

Brass said during his visit, which lasted about three hours, Taylor was upbeat. Officers recorded the conversation between Brass, attorney Kristine Rogers and Taylor as "constant" and said he seemed almost happy. The talking was peppered with frequent laughter.

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